Turbo Vision, Borland’s text-mode widget toolkit, is fairly widely known by those old enough to remember it, and apparently quite influential: it gave rise to a number of ports and reimplementations (Sergio Sigala’s TVision, Free Vision, jexer, or the recently-released port by magiblot), especially after the library was donated into the public domain.

Despite this wide recognition and influence, I am struggling to come up with examples of software that actually used it back in the day, other than Borland’s own Pascal and C++ IDEs, the demos included with them, and Turbo Debugger.

Was there any ‘major’, widely-known, especially non-Borland software that used Turbo Vision (either the Pascal or C++ version), from before the library was released into the public domain? Or did Turbo Vision gain this ‘cult following’ only in retrospect?

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    I'm sure that lots of ISV software used it. – RonJohn Dec 19 '20 at 23:09
  • They wrote it for themselves. It is interesting why they made a product out of it? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Dec 19 '20 at 23:32
  • ISVs were probably the main users of TurboVision. The larger the company the more likely that they would write their own proprietary GUI library so they could tightly control the features/size balance. I remember Norton Utilities (owned by Symantec already?) eventually had many of their tools be GUI apps which looked very TV-like to my then-untrained eye; but I would be shocked if they didn’t develop their own library instead of licensing Borland’s. – Euro Micelli Dec 20 '20 at 1:07
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    I think that question shows a severe mis-understanding of the Borland compilers' role. Even if you extended it beyond TV to TP and TC themselves, you wouldn't find many examples of 'major', widely-known non-Borland software that was compiled with the Borland compilers. Professional software companies would have used MS, Watcom or IBM development tooling rather than Borland. Borland compilers were, when "professionally" used, used for bespoke, in-house, one-off and maybe Q&D projects. – tofro Dec 20 '20 at 12:53
  • Fair enough; I forgot that Borland targeted its products mostly at hobbyists until very late in DOS’s lifetime. As I remember, their first version of Pascal aimed at professionals was Borland Pascal 7, which was also the last to target DOS; its successor Delphi targeted Windows 3.x only (and I believe it was meant to target Windows 95). – user3840170 Dec 27 '20 at 13:04

Somewhat obscure but IDA Pro for DOS was using Turbo Vision

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Later the same TUI got ported to OS/2, Win32 console and Linux terminal and at one point even iPhone!

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The TVision version is still shipped today for Win32, Linux and macOS together with the default Qt GUI.

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Updated cross-platform TVision library source code is available for download.


You have to appreciate that the vast bulk of software written in the world never sees the light of day outside of the business that created it. There are millions of programmers worldwide working every day on applications, yet we as the public see a small fraction of those applications.

Most of the code is line of business back office work, software used for internal research projects, work at universities, etc.

Eleventy billion lines of Visual Basic apps can't be wrong.

As you can imagine there has always been a bottomless need for tools that make application development easier for day to day coders.

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    I fully agree with your point, however I don’t think the OP was asking whether TV had been “useful” or “successful”, but whether it had been used for major “shrink-wrap” commercial applications. The answer can be “yes” to the former and “no” to the latter. – Euro Micelli Dec 20 '20 at 17:33

I don’t remember any major non-Borland software written using Turbo Vision either. I suspect that if there had been, it would have been listed in part 3 of the Turbo Vision FAQ, “Applications written with Turbo Vision”.


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